[b-hebrew] Ex 6:6 hiphil imperative 'bring'

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jul 10 21:13:46 EDT 2013


On Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 5:53 AM, Barry <nebarry at verizon.net> wrote:

> On 7/10/2013 8:05 AM, K Randolph wrote:
>  > First, I noticed that some words were used in ways that indicated that
>  > their meanings as given in dictionaries didn’t seem accurate. It was
>  > more often a nuance than a full meaning, but sometimes the latter as
>  > well. Part of that is also how I understand words are used which is
>  > different from how some other lexicographers understand how words are
>  > used. My understanding is based on action and the range where that
>  > action can be applied, theirs more often on form and affect.
> Karl, this experience is shared by all who proceed beyond the
> beginning/intermediate levels of any language study. Lexicons and
> dictionaries are not exhaustive – that's simply impossible. They are, so
> to speak, the beginning of semantic wisdom. What you are describing is
> called in linguistics the pragmatics of the word, how the word is
> actually used in context. Here is a pretty good introductory lecture on
> the subject:
> http://www.ling.upenn.edu/courses/Fall_1998/ling001/meaning.html
> My comments here are restricted to pragmatic or semantic extension, not
> to the other aspects of linguistic pragmatics.

Let’s go back to the example I gave of “to swing” which is limited motion
around an arc. When a conductor swings his baton, he leads the orchestra.
When a baseball player swings his bat, he attempts to hit a speeding ball
(if he misses, he then has a count against him, which is called a “strike”,
from a different root than “strike” to hit). When a man swings his partner
to music, that is dancing. When a child swings on a chair suspended from an
overhead gantry, that is playing. But they all have the same action, namely
limited movement along an arc. How a translator would translate the word
into another language and culture may be different with each context when
the target language doesn’t have the concept of “swing”. But the translator
would be best able to choose the closest words in the target language if he
understands the action behind the word in English.

I’m expanding my dictionary beyond mere glosses to showing how and where
they are used. As we discussed in earlier discussions, meaning is
discovered not only in the actions referred to by the verb, but also the
contexts where that action takes place. Some actions can take place in
greater number of contexts than other words.

> As an example of the pragmatic use of a word in English, let's say I'm
> writing a science fiction story in which I regularly use the word "car"
> to mean "flying car." Car doesn't normally mean that in English, but
> anybody reading my book would understand how its being used. At times
> what begins initially as a pragmatic extension of the meaning becomes a
> standard meaning in a particular context, such as "phone" to mean "cell
> phone" or "scan" to make digital copies of documents or pictures.
> The difficulty for us as modern readers of ancient languages is this, do
> we use an different word other than the standard lexical glosses to
> render the usage in context, or do we use such a standard gloss and hope
> the context shows the pragmatic extension in English? I don't have a
> clue, really, but I think it has to be decided on a case by case basis.

Now when I read Tanakh, I almost never translate, so that’s not an issue
with my normal reading. However, when translating, I often don’t take the
exact meaning—sometimes because it makes for awkward readings, sometimes
not understandable. For example, הוצאתי HWC)TY literally means “I cause to
exit” which is commonly “translated” as “I brought …” The reason for the
difference is because English doesn’t have a one-to-one correspondence to
Hebrew. And we need to decide on a case by case basis to decide on how is
best to translate a passage.

I think the translator does best when he recognizes what is the action
indicated by the lexeme, so he’s best able to choose whether or not to
follow a gloss.

> All this to say that your lexicons weren't lying to you. The best
> lexicons provide definitions which act as guides to the usage of the
> word, descriptive rather than prescriptive.

Lying is telling falsehoods with the intent to deceive. Far be it from me
to claim so apart from evidence (which I don’t have). What I think is far
more likely is that other lexicographers used a lexicographic method that
my experience indicates gives a substandard to misleading and incorrect
result, in this case gloss.

>  >
>  > I was taught two different patterns of verbal use: one where the
>  > different conjugations referred to tense, which was the main
>  > understanding at the time of Gesenius and Davidson, hence their use of
>  > “ preterite” and “perfect” and “future”; secondly that they referred to
>  > aspect; neither turn out to be accurate.
>  >
>  > There is a pattern of usage for the conjugations, but that pattern
>  > doesn’t fit tense, aspect nor mood.
> As recent discussion on this list proves, the Hebrew verbal system is a
> matter of some controversy as our understanding of it evolves...

How much of that controversy is driven by pride? After all, the scholar who
staked his reputation on the claim that present referent, declarative,
continuous action speech is rendered by a sentence structure of subject,
verb in participle, object optional depending on verb will not take too
kindly to the person who points out that the real pattern is subject, verb
in Qatal, and optional object depending on verb.

How many other positions are similar to that?

> --
> N.E. Barry Hofstetter
> Semper melius Latine sonat
> http://my.opera.com/barryhofstetter/blog
> All opinions in this email are my own, and
> reflect no institution with which I may be
> associated

Karl W. Randolph.
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